Show Your Love For Local – October
When GROW Nebraska Foundation CEO Janell Anderson-Ehrke sees orders for Nebraska chokecherry jellies coming in on Buy Nebraska from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, she can’t help but smile.
“How could these small Nebraska businesses have gotten their product to these states without GROW’s help?” she said. “It just makes my heart so happy that those are the kinds of things happening at GROW.”
In the past year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GROW Nebraska’s expertise in online sales and business trainings became even more critical to Nebraska businesses.
It’s only through the continued support of members and donors that GROW Nebraska can stay on the cutting edge of technology and offer the latest tools and services to entrepreneurs across the state.
“These donations allow us to keep offering innovative, out-of-the-box services to help people in Anywhere, Nebraska, make a living,” GROW CEO Janell Anderson-Ehrke said. “Technology changes so fast, and donations to GROW help us to keep adding services.”
Board member Rick Nelsen, who is Senior Economic Development Consultant at Nebraska Public Power District, said anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship should become a GROW donor.
“GROW has a proven track record of positively benefitting its members. If you support entrepreneurship, you should support GROW Nebraska,” Nelson said. “GROW plays a vital role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nebraska. I have witnessed how they work with their members of all sizes and help them grow their businesses.”
Board member Richard Johnson, Senior Vice President/AG Banking at Adams Bank & Trust, said helping members survive and prosper during COVID-19 was GROW’s most important work this past year.
“GROW Nebraska ramped up many clients’ abilities to continue to do business in these challenging times,” Johnson said.
Board member Justin Daake, Managing Attorney at Daake Law Office, LLC, in Oxford agreed.
“GROW has been doing excellent work in helping Nebraska entrepreneurs respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said. “GROW Nebraska’s sustained efforts to create global digital markets for Nebraska products will continue to be essential to the state’s economic recovery.”
Daake said GROW has provided valuable services and expertise to Nebraska entrepreneurs like himself for decades.
While GROW’s membership dues help fund the general operations and basic day-to-day expenses of the organization, Anderson-Ehrke said donations help staff stay on top of technology and offer more services.
“Donations allow us to keep being entrepreneurial and to keep pivoting,” she said.
Anderson-Ehrke said that when the pandemic hit, they knew businesses needed more training, so they started offering TWO monthly online training opportunities instead of ONE. They also started Training Tips Tuesday on Instagram, which is a weekly 10-minute training video posted to Instagram. It is made possible through a partnership with UNL’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
GROW also expanded Facebook ads services, launched an Etsy store and a presence on TikTok and continued to improve its existing Amazon and Buy Nebraska online stores. Some businesses rely solely on GROW Nebraska for their online sales platform, which became critical during COVID-19 shutdowns.
“I have been shocked by the ability of GROW to quickly adjust and the amount of online sales that have occurred this year through GROW,” board member Rick Nelsen said.
GROW Nebraska’s e-commerce sites are now generating more than $30,000 a month in sales for its members!
“That’s a substantial amount of money going to Nebraska businesses,” Anderson-Ehrke said. “And more than 80 percent of our online orders are from out-of-state customers, so that’s new money into the state.”
Johnson said having spent most of his banking career in community banks, he sees the importance of GROW Nebraska’s many services in assisting Nebraska businesses to grow and be successful regardless of size.
“GROW Nebraska connects Nebraskans and aids in developing networks and working relationships that might not have happened without these options,” he said. “Many Nebraska entrepreneurs could not gain the exposure individually they can receive through GROW Nebraska, and they also could not afford the marketing and training expertise GROW Nebraska provides.”
GROW has a goal of securing 100 new donors by the end of the year. If you’d like to help GROW Nebraska reach that goal and support Nebraska businesses and entrepreneurs, find out the details and benefits of becoming a donor at www.grownebraska.org/givenow
GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.